B2B LeadGen expert Stapho Thienpont on why Marketing Qualified Leads matter

By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Podcast.

The goal of many social media managers and digital marketers is to get seen by as many people as possible. But for Stapho Thienpont, a Business-to-Business (B2B) lead generation expert, this trend doesn’t ultimately help generate any money for the company. If you want to boost your sales, you would want to tap the Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).

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Marketing Qualified Leads

Unlike Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) — or people who are also already interested to buy from you right now — MQLs are those who are in the earlier phase. They fit your requirements as people to whom you want to sell your product or service. 

For you to identify your MQLs, it’s important that you understand who your target audience is. Instead of simply launching a podcast or posting content on LinkedIn or Instagram, you have to ask yourself first: Who is it that I want to sell to?

If you already have some clients, you have to look into your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool and determine which companies or clients are making you the most money. Then, assess what is it that they have in common. You can interview, for instance, your top 10 customers and identify their common denominator. After doing that, you can start finding more people that fit the bill. 

However, if you don’t have customers yet, you should start by making a list of companies that you’d love to work with. Stapho notes that you should only list down companies that are as similar to each other as possible. This way, it will be much easier and efficient to make a piece of content that will be valuable for your intended audience. 

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After you’ve made a list of 100 prospects, interview at least 10 of them, if not all 100. Your interviewee should be the people who are likely to be interested in this kind of conversation — marketing research interviews and surveys. For example, if you have a PR firm, you would want to interview the marketing manager of a company because he or she will be the one to determine that their company indeed needs some PR. These people are called the champions. Champions are easy to have a sales conversation with. In the first place, they’re the ones who will appreciate talking to someone who will actually listen to them. 

How Do You Reach Out and Get People to Talk to You?

Coming up with a list of MQLs can be made mostly by Googling. If you want to target startups specifically and you want to know about their funding, you can use platforms such as Crunchbase

For the next phase — which is reaching out — you can start a genuine conversation by sending out direct messages (DMs) on LinkedIn or Instagram. You can also roll out a cold email campaign using tools like lemlist, which is a software that allows you to customise outbound solutions (e.g., attaching personalised images in your emails). 

In terms of incentivising companies to be interviewed or surveyed, Stapho shares that many people consider the mere participation in marketing research already adequate. However, you can also offer something such as Amazon gift cards. 

The key is being genuine in your conversation. Before you converse with them, you should do some research. You can look at their website and prepare a short video pointing out what can they improve — and how you can help them improve it. If you’re a graphic designer, you can review some of their designs or even make a free design for them. Leverage your expertise to do something beneficial for them. This way, you’ll make them feel that you’ve done something for them, incentivising them to do something for you as well.

For Stapho, one of the most effective techniques is starting a podcast targeting your MQLs and inviting them to get featured on your show. Apart from giving them media exposure, you’re also showcasing their expertise in a particular topic. In the process, you’ll be able to sustain a podcast that your prospective clients would really want to listen to and be featured in in the future. For instance, if you’re doing PR works for manufacturing companies, you could make a podcast that talks about manufacturing. 

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Whether you’re reaching out through DMs or a podcast, what’s important is to know why you want to interview them. Though having a conversation that can lead to a sale is one thing, understanding these companies’ problems is as significant as well, because it will be helpful in your marketing campaigns. For instance, when you’re making a landing page or creating a cold email, you can use this information to entice your prospects to buy from you. 

However, such vital information isn’t something that you can simply guess — you can only know it by reaching out and asking them. And as you get to know your customers better, you will start seeing common traits. This will help you create content that will be useful for all of them. 

Podcasting and the Edge it Offers

As stated earlier, a podcast is an effective means of reaching out to MQLs. Stapho points out that launching one shouldn’t be considered overwhelming. 

Come up with a list of guests, record, add descriptions and show notes, and attach a cover image. There are tools like Fiverr wherein you can get everything done by paying $15. You can also pay an additional fee if you want to incorporate a piece of engaging intro music. If you want to take it to the next level, you can also upload and distribute your podcast on platforms such as Podcast.co. 

There’s an article by Sweet Fish Media that rounds up 26 steps on how you can start a podcast. It goes to show how launching a podcast is much easier than you think.

However, it doesn’t end with just recording podcasts. Stapho points out that it’s also important to help your podcast guests — your MQLs — share the content on social media as well. Promotion is vital because it’s one way of tapping into other companies that are similar to them. You can propagate your reach to other people who fit your ideal customer profile or ICP. 

Apart from reaching other potential customers, you’re also allowing the very people within their company to see your content. For instance, if your interviewee is a marketing manager and he shares your podcast episode on LinkedIn, there’s a chance that his supervisor will get to see it, too. This way, you can get people who need to know about you, know about you. 

The content that can be shared on social media isn’t limited to the whole podcast episode only. With Podcast.co, you can splice your content, get an interesting clip, and have it automatically captioned. There’s also an app called Headliner that can help you promote your podcasts through social videos. 

When it comes to boosting content engagement, Stapho recommends lempod (it comes from the same people behind the aforementioned lemlist). Through this tool, you can make a group of people who agree to automatically engage in your content.  For example, if you post something on LinkedIn, you can make a setting wherein the members of your lempod group can automatically like it. Boosting engagement on LinkedIn can help you expand your reach from first connections to second connections. 

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You can also utilise podcasts as an avenue where you can strike up a sales conversation. As an expert in high ticket B2B, Stapho recommends asking qualifying questions during the podcast. From there, you can figure out during the show if the person is indeed a qualified lead. After the recording proper, you can transition into discussing business matters: What is it that you do? Will your interviewee be interested in availing of your product or service? 

After the podcast recording is done, you can send an email thanking your interviewee for agreeing to be featured. In your email, you can incorporate a discovery call, or the conversation you make with someone who has initially shown interest in your product or service. Once the episode is live, you can also make a follow-up email and tag them on your social media promotions. 

Podcasting gives you an extra edge because it lets you show that you appreciate your prospects — and that you regard them as experts in their field. It’s also a way to establish good rapport and kick off discussions that can naturally flow into a sales conversation. 

For queries on MQL generation, you can reach out to Stapho through LinkedIn. You can also learn more about the digital services that he provides via https://www.bothrs.com. And when you grow your business, bear in mind that you shouldn’t concentrate on getting huge statistics — you only need to have a few profitable ones. Using platforms like LinkedIn for your B2B marketing endeavours, after all, is all about focus and content quality. 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast The UnNoticed, you can listen here.


Cover photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash.

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